It's easy to see why our word looks like "elephant:"
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, elephantiasis is "a condition characterized by gross enlargement of an area of the body, especially the limbs."
Figuratively, elephantiasis is enormous, terrible growth.
EL if unt EYE us is
Part of speech:
(Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the elephantiasis,” “such elephantiasis,” “no elephantiasis,” and so on, but don’t say “elephantiasises.”)
How to use it:
Even if your listeners haven't heard "elephantiasis" before, they'll probably hear the "elephant" part and understand it right away. But keeping in mind that this word is very intense and critical, you'll want to reserve it for describing growth that has ballooned in a hideous, unnatural way.
Like with other words for diseases or conditions, you can say something has elephantiasis, is developing (or at risk of developing) elephantiasis, is a victim of elephantiasis, is affected by elephantiasis, is afflicted with elephantiasis, is suffering from elephantiasis, is cured of its elephantiasis, etc.
You could also specify that you're talking about "architectural elephantiasis," "corporate elephantiasis," "elephantiasis of the ego," and so on.
You probably don't want to say that a person has elephantiasis--that would sound like you meant the literal bodily symptom--but you could claim that any of these things has elephantiasis: a group, a company, a building, a section of town, a project or plan, an idea, a trend or movement, a philosophy or religion, a lifestyle, someone's spending habits, someone's gambling addiction, etc.
Say what you will about Amazon.com's unsettling corporate elephantiasis, but wow, they get you your stuff fast and cheap.
With his tendency to dream big and figure out any practical details later, his projects suffer from elephantiasis in the early planning stages and have to be scaled way down.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "elephantiasis" means when you can explain it without saying "expansion" or "bloating."
Think of something that's gotten out of hand or way too large, and fill in the blanks: "We can cure (something) of its/their elephantiasis only by _____."
Example: "We can cure our inboxes of their elephantiasis only by forcing ourselves to be selective about which companies' mailing lists we stay on."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
If an anthropolith is a fossilized human skeleton, and if the lithosphere is the crust and upper mantle of the earth, and if tripolith is akind of cement... then what does the Greek word lithos mean?
The Greek word lithos means stone.
Try this one today:
A cabriolet, a dos-a-dos, a timwhisky, and a tum-tum are all examples of what?
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answer? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
Shakespeare: “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”
1. The opposite of ELEPHANTIASIS is
2. Houston is afflicted with a kind of urban elephantiasis; its _____.
A. Tex-Mex restaurants are the best you will ever experience
B. suburbs stretch ever farther in almost every direction
C. theater district alone is worth a weekend trip
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Often we have a look at words with separate but related literal and figurative meanings, and I like to mention both of those meanings. Not because the literal one is too useful for us--we're always more interested in the looser, more general second definition--but because you always keep the literal sense in the back of your mind as you select the word.
Today, for instance, you call to mind the actual bodily symptom of elephantiasis whenever you use that word to talk about something else, like a corporation or a group of lawmakers.
The same holds true for the following previous words.